Branding & Web
Bank Of England

POP wins Mitie GSO website

Facilities management and professional services giant Mitie have awarded the contract to develop its new Global Security Operations website to POP.

We will be working alongside Mitie internal teams to plan, map, design and develop the new website which will incorporate the company’s sophisticated security intelligence, consultancy and technology offerings, including its industry-leading Merlin software.

“Winning such a significant project in the height of the pandemic-related downturn is a massive boost and is testament to us continuing to deliver day-in-day-out to our clients since before lockdown.” — Nick Whyatt, MD

Mitie is the UK’s largest intelligence-led security operation with over 22,000 security officers employed, and 35,000 security systems maintained, clients include The Bank of England, Eurostar, IKEA and the Co-op.

Concerning the current Covid-19 pandemic, Mitie has developed pioneering products and services to help people and businesses return to work and public spaces. These include a range of thermal imaging technologies to detect people with elevated temperatures and a cleaning product, Citrox Protect, which is proven to combat Coronaviruses on surfaces for six months and is chemical-free, non-toxic and produced from all-natural materials.

Learn more about our website design and development services

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Internal communications - we will be back!

Internal communications now, adverts later

As marketing budgets get slashed, and brands struggle to make sense of their new reality, most with vastly reduced income and resources, marketers and agencies plead with them to not go silent, not least because their income rests on them generating work. One area of comms that definitely shouldn’t be silent though is internal communications.

“If there isn’t demand, then no amount of advertising can boost sales.” — Archie Norman, Chairman, M&S

Brands that continue to market aggressively in a recession usually are in a stronger position afterwards is the message, but this isn’t a typical recession. 

We all pray for the V-shaped post-lockdown economic revival, but there’s still much uncertainty about this happening amid the lay-offs, furloughing and hushed fears of a second wave.

A recession doesn’t usually come with entire sectors such as events and hospitality shuttering for months, or the restrictions on movement, face-to-face contact and reduced admission into physical locations. All of which further hobble business activity and recovery.

A typical recession also doesn’t come with the sheer amount of adaptation and diversification that the present crisis has demanded either. Many businesses have had to realise their formerly hazy, sometime-never flexible working plans almost overnight, and many non-digital brands have had to formulate a digital or distanced offering at a similar breakneck speed.

Even so, if demand for your brand’s offering is significantly down or restricted, perhaps to nearly (or even actually) zero, what do you do with the precious marketing resources you do have? 

There is a strong argument for significantly reappropriating marketing spend to internal communications instead of using it all to fruitlessly ‘keeping your name out there’ and seeing your budget evaporate.

As always, your staff are the living embodiment of your brand. The clarity in your internal communications, now and as people return to work, will have a massive impact on what shape your brand is in, and what your customer experience is like when demand returns.

What form these internal communications take will depend on the brand and how it has been affected by the crisis, but likely themes will include:

  • What measures are we taking to ensure your safety?
  • What measures are we taking to ensure business continuity?
  • Open and frank company-wide discussions and strategy sessions to allow people to share their experiences and thoughts from the last few months
  • A state of the nation summary – where are we? What did we learn? What positives can we keep long-term? What change is needed to get back on track? What is your role in this?
  • Why were you furloughed when others weren’t? How do we regain your confidence that you are still valued?
  • How can we reintroduce furloughed and non-furloughed staff into the same workplace frictionlessly?
  • Has your role or working arrangements changed permanently? Why was this necessary?

The temptation is to hold off until it feels like the crisis is over to do your meaningful internal communications; the stuff that’s bigger than Zoom quizzes and sweetie hampers, as a sort of collective sigh of relief. But embracing the challenge now, even if you don’t have all the answers, will help ensure your brand’s internal integrity is as healthy as possible when the phone starts ringing again.

For examples of our internal communications work see our projects for Interflora and Vera Wang.

Image courtesy of Jon Tyson

Co-branding interflora and co-op

Brand strategy: co-branding

Co-branding and brand partnerships, when done correctly, have the power to reinvigorate tired brands, open up new revenue streams and introduce brands to entirely new audiences.

By the same measure, co-branding exposes the participants to the risks associated with each brand’s actions and reputations; so the phrase “You’re known by the company you keep” is highly relevant.

Co-branding works best when the partners have a joint offering that benefits the customer and is, at least outwardly, seamless — one such example is the co-branding partnership between Apple and Nike. Based on the simple premise that people like to listen to music when working out, the Nike+iPod launched in 2006. 

…the phrase “You’re known by the company you keep” is highly relevant

Nike+ users could listen to music on their iPods or iPhones while working out and at the same time receive workout data such as distance, pace and calories burned using the technology contained in a small transmitter and the Apple devices.

This strong relationship has continued through the more recent advances in technology and changing product ranges and now includes a series of co-branded Apple Watches. The relationship between the two brands continues to widely expose both brands to each other’s incredibly loyal customers.

Other successful examples of co-branding that make immediate sense were projects we were involved in the creation of (see above image). The partnerships between Interfora and both The Co-operative Funeralcare and Vera Wang, for funeral flowers and wedding flowers respectively, helped to create a new dynamic to the product ranges.

Interflora bringing their credibility in floristry to the funeral care market lent the combined offering an elevated sense of quality, while renowned fashion designer, Vera Wang, brought a feeling of exclusivity to her range of wedding flowers.

A further interesting example of note is (RED) which exists entirely to be a co-branding partner. The Global Fund created the brand to generate sustainable income to fight AIDS in Africa and has partners including Dell, Hallmark, Starbucks, GAP and Nike; each able to create their own (RED) products that contribute to the fund’s income.

Co-branding advantages

  • Reaching another brand’s ready-made audience and rapid market penetration
  • Elevating or improving the perceived credibility of a brand by association with a more exclusive or technically proficient partner
  • Creation of entirely new joint ventures
  • Extending operational reach through broader alliances such as Oneworld 

Disadvantages

As mentioned in the introduction, brands, like people, are known by the company they keep, so the main disadvantage of co-branding is the risk of being tied to partner brand that either has a negative development arise or becomes less of an asset and more of a liability.

An excellent example of this is the long-standing relationship between Shell and Lego which dated back to the 1960s. Lego ended the relationship after a high-profile campaign by Greenpeace, who accused Shell of exploiting the Arctic recklessly to drill for oil. Lego could not risk association with a partner that was becoming more toxic as environmental concerns grow to an all-time high.

Nike was also quick to sever its ties with Lance Armstrong and his LiveStrong foundation after he confessed to doping.

If you are considering co-branding or have any questions about this area of brand strategy, drop us a line.

Brand pandemic research running track

This is a marathon, not a sprint

New research* shows that most brands are yet to adopt a strategic approach to marketing more during the pandemic lockdown, just 7% are investing more in marketing, but double that figure think it’s too early even to know what their strategic response will be.

By far the most significant percentage of brands, some 50%, are making cuts in marketing intending to conserve finances enough to survive another day. 29% remain in a holding position of maintaining previous marketing spend.

These statistics paint a picture of brands, somewhat understandably, battling to survive with a short-term focus on holding on to cash or in a state of paralysis as to how to play it in the current situation — 10% of marketers believe their finance department would reject requests for marketing spend because it would be a waste of time and money.

It seems then that the approach of most brands is in some way to hope it blows over before their cash runs out and, hopefully, return to business something like usual.

Only 10% of consumers believe they will return to their usual pattern of behaviour once the lockdown eases.

Consumer research** shows the pandemic recovery is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint, however. That’s once the lockdown ends too and we still don’t have a timescale for that yet.

Only 10% of consumers believe they will return to their usual pattern of behaviour once the lockdown eases. A massive 77% of consumers say that they will be either a bit cautious or very cautious, and 13% intend to stay in some sort of lockdown situation. 28% of consumers also believe the experience will leave them with permanently changed shopping behaviour.

There’s an evident gulf between brand thinking and consumer thinking, in terms of the timescales this will play out at least.

The research indicates that customers are going to have to be coaxed back rather than flooding back uninvited as soon as the lockdown eases. When they do come back, they will also be coming back with reduced income.

If they are to survive or even thrive, brands need to find a way of bridging the gap and form a longer-term plan now to negotiate their current reality, the road to recovery is going to be a long one.

* Marketing Week and Econsultancy
** Retail Economics

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

brand strategy hybrid brand architecture - coke

Brand strategy: hybrid brands

In this, the third post in our brand strategy series looking at brand architecture, we look at the hybrid brand architecture model.

The hybrid model aims to incorporate elements of both the branded house and house of brands models to give each brand maximum advantage, either through endorsement or independence.

Hybrid brand architecture is often the result of acquisitions, whereby the parent brand decides on a case-by-case basis what the most beneficial brand strategy is when it acquires each new brand — either absorb it into the parent brand, retain some element of the existing brand but endorse it with the parent brand or to leave it intact.

Examples of the hybrid brand architecture model include Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Amazon.

Examples of the hybrid brand architecture model include Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Amazon. Amazon, in particular, has a host of brands that range from Amazon Prime and Amazon Echo that are very clearly visually signposted as part of the brand to brands such as IMDb and Twitch that have remained mostly intact post-acquisition.

Facebook is also making a transition from a single-platform brand to a hybrid brand that is both the social media platform and the parent company that endorses acquired platforms such as Whatsapp and Instagram. The ‘two facebooks’ having different identities to signify which you are interacting with — either parent or platform.

Hybrid brand strategy advantages

The hybrid architecture approach can present the best of all worlds. The awareness and rapid market penetration that a known brand can lend to either a new offshoot or a smaller acquisition can be very beneficial. But it also allows the flexibility for stand-alone brands where this would be an advantage.

Equally, if a brand that is either neglected or has other difficulties gets brought under the wing of a trusted parent brand, it can help to negate the negative image of the brand that is acquired.

In the case of platforms or services such as Twitch, the ability to make the transition in ownership seamless by leaving the brand intact also helps to retain the brand’s users.

Disadvantages

The additional costs and management time that the house of brands model generates can also apply to the hybrid model, together with some of the inflexibility and ‘risk by association’ of the branded house model.

The other significant disadvantage can be confusion, both from an external and an internal viewpoint. Customers and brand managers can just become lost in a morass of brands at various levels of association and disassociation with the parent brand, not all of which necessarily makes sense if the situation has arisen organically over time and goes without periodical review.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Markus Lompa on Unsplash

brand strategy house of brands network

Brand strategy: house of brands

Continuing our brand strategy series of posts addressing brand architecture, we take a look at the house of brands model. The house of brands is the principle alternative to the branded house model.

The house of brands model has the parent brand in the background, sometimes almost to the point of being unknown, and focuses brand-building efforts on individual service or product brands. 

The visibility of the parent brand does vary within this as, strategically, it can sometimes be beneficial for it to be known; mainly as an endorsement of quality or heritage and sometimes it is more useful or relevant for it to take a back seat.

An example of a house of brands model is FMCG behemoth Unilever. The brands owned and operated by Unilever fall into various consumer goods categories and include house-hold name brands such as Walls, Persil, Hellmann’s and Ben & Jerry’s.

You can use Unilever-owned products several times a day in various categories and not be aware of the parent brand without scrutinising the packaging carefully.

House of brands brand strategy advantages

There are many advantages to the house of brands brand architecture model, the primary one being flexibility. Many FMCG goods brands favour it as it allows them to occupy more market share by having several brands in the same category. 

It also allows for the operation of brands with different positioning in the same category, such as a budget brand and a mid-market or high-end brand. Alternatively, similar products could focus on different attributes or market segments.

If one of the brands takes a turn for the worse, the fallout has a better chance of being contained within that one brand

Another significant benefit of the house of brands model is that they have some protection from each other in the case of adverse situations. If one of the brands takes a turn for the worse, the fallout has a better chance of being contained within that one brand.

Nestlé, for example, has attracted some broad and incredibly strong criticism (at the time of writing, Why Nestle is one of the most hated companies in the world is high on the first page of Google search results for the company’s name), yet Smarties and Quality Street feel distant from the furore and remain fondly regarded.

Disadvantages

The House of brands brand strategy is resource-hungry. Each brand needs establishing in its own right and marketed more-or-less independently, which can be incredibly costly compared to the branded house model.

Related to this is also the risk of cannibalisation; launching and operating multiple brands in the same category can result in converting customers from an existing brand to your newly-launched brand. The overall market share of the parent brand, therefore, doesn’t increase, but it now has the additional liabilities of operating a new brand.

There is also just the sheer logistical workload of owning and operating multiple brands. If a company owns 400 product brands, there is some inevitability that they won’t all shine as brightly. Some will always get the lion’s share of attention and investment, which in turn becomes something of a self-fulfilling cycle as they continue to perform better.

While the limiting of potential negative overspill from one brand to another is an advantage, conversely it also restricts any possible positive association. The halo of one brand tends not to stretch around its stablemates.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Brand strategy umbrella brand - Volvo

Brand strategy: the umbrella brand

When creating your brand strategy, an important aspect is brand architecture. There are several models that you can adopt and even hybrid models, so in our series of posts, we will look at each in turn.

It is worth mentioning that, particularly as businesses and brands grow in complexity and acquire other brands or launch new areas of activity, there exists an entire spectrum of hybrid models.

One widely used brand architecture model is the umbrella brand or branded house model. In essence, the umbrella brand or branded house uses an overarching brand as the main focal point, and the brand’s products or services are all contained within this.

Volvo is an example of an umbrella brand or branded house brand architecture model, as is Virgin. Whether you are ordering wine, booking a holiday or signing up for an intergalactic flight, you are in no doubt that you are dealing first and foremost with the Virgin brand and will see its familiar signature-style logo.

Umbrella brand strategy advantages

There are lots of advantages to the branded house architecture model, one of the main ones being sheer visibility. If you perform every interaction under one banner, then all efforts concentrate and support the one brand.

From a brand management viewpoint, it can be easier to manage a branded house. All areas of the brand share the same vision, the same identity (albeit with some specifics for sub-brands) and can seek to create the same or similar customer experience.

There are also ordinarily significant operational efficiencies to the branded house model.

There are also ordinarily significant operational efficiencies to the branded house model. Marketing efforts can often be shared, and public relations activities tend to benefit the whole ‘house’.

This approach can also give new areas of activity rapid market penetration. If the brand is well-known and already has a positive reputation in the marketplace, a new service or product will immediately benefit from being within the branded house, which is considerably easier than launching a new brand.

Disadvantages

One of the most potentially severe disadvantages of this brand strategy is that any negative association bleeds into all areas of the branded house. A disaster for one service or product has consequences for its siblings too.

There is also the issue of dilution. If a brand stretches too far, both its credibility in the marketplace (especially if it’s a new entrant), and what it stood for in the first place can become lost.

Another disadvantage is inflexibility; the whole branded house tends to own the brand positioning, so it can be hard to launch a new product or service that shares the brand but seeks to hold a different position in the market. An example of this is Toyota when launching an upmarket challenger to the German business-class brands. It had to create the luxury Lexus brand to earn a share of the luxury market convincingly.

Similarly, the areas of activity the brand enters into have to make sense to the brand’s audiences. Can what the brand is known for successfully translate? The public can be fickle, and if that’s combined with a leftfield brand extension, it can spell disaster — though there are doubts over its veracity, the infamous Colgate Lasagne illustrates how jarring some brand extensions have the potential to be.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Adam Cai on Unsplash

Brand identity - think twice

How to ruin your brand identity

You’ve worked hard to grow your brand from concept to something with tangible value; you don’t just have customers, you have fans. The long nights and weekends working are finally paying off!

Wrapped around it all is your brand identity, it’s the conduit between your brand and it’s public. Here’s how to completely undermine it:

Use your identity inconsistently

Initially, you got a fantastic identity designed for your brand. It lent it a real feel of quality and stood out in the marketplace like a beacon of Apple-esque chic.

You didn’t get any brand guidelines produced though, so every time it’s been used since you’ve just supplied the last piece of collateral as a reference. 

It now looks a bit like you’ve paid someone to bootleg your brand.

For some reason, your brand doesn’t look quite as refined as it used to. Bit by bit, it seems to have become removed from the original brand identity. It now looks a bit like you’ve paid someone to bootleg your brand.

Oh well, perhaps time for a branding refresh.

Change your brand identity regularly

Day in, day out you have to look at your brand identity, and you’re sure it’s starting to look a bit dated or has lost its sparkle, or maybe you’re just bored with it.

Despite the fact it’s only 18-months since your last rebrand, it must be time to rebrand again; your customers will be just excited as you by your new look. Perhaps you’ll even change your name this time. Agile!

One of your competitors has rebranded, and their new identity looks impressive, so do something like theirs.

Stretch it beyond relevance

Your quest for global domination means sub-brands and brand extensions a-plenty.

Just because you’re a recruiter, it doesn’t mean you can’t launch a range of athleisure wear or a restaurant chain. Your reputation for filling vacant IT positions will translate easily across countless products and services.

Make sure they all carry the same brand name too, so when one brand extension goes awry, it reflects poorly on them all.

Jump on the bandwagon

You want your brand out there, and a structured social responsibility programme is too restrictive. Instead, hitch your brand to every cause, movement, issue or sponsorship opportunity that comes along, big or small.

Don’t appoint one person or team to manage it

Brand management is a company-wide responsibility, so get everyone to use, deploy and manage your brand identity without anyone overseeing it or controlling quality.

Conclusion

By following these easy steps, you’ll achieve maximum cost and effort for minimum return. You’ll also be sure to confuse anyone that comes into contact with your brand, and maybe even yourself.

If you want to avoid these pitfalls, drop us a line and let’s talk about your brand.

Photo by explorenation # on Unsplash

London 2012 cyclists

A love letter to London 2012

Every piece of identity design to gain significant exposure leads to a familiar pattern of behaviour; some likes, some dislikes, some designers pointing out aesthetic flaws or where the project went wrong, a few (usually awful) attempts at alternatives.

This eruption is all usually spewed forth without the context of the original brief, the client’s input, what the goal was or any other of the countless factors that influence the outcome of a design.

One of the most extreme examples of this was the reaction to the London 2012 Olympic Games identity. It generated a reaction so strong it became a heated discussion far outside of the design industry. People felt so violently opposed to it that a petition to redesign it was quickly set up and gathered tens of thousands of signatures (this was before petitioning everything became a default reaction).

A raft of proposed alternatives surfaced, all pretty appalling, but most importantly, they almost all missed a key objective; create an identity that could be owned by the nation, not just London.

Every depiction of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament or Thames woven into the Olympic Rings missed the point — Britain is tiny, it needed everyone to support the Olympics; not just the capital.

The logo’s form was so wildly unconventional and dynamic that it could be filled with images, patterns and colours in almost any combination and remain just as recognisable.

The shape assisted widespread ownership by sponsors and suppliers up and down the country; they could create their own unique version of it — despite possibly disliking it, they still wanted the prestige of being a supplier or partner to the Olympics.

It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical

Instead of the usual soft shapes and pleasant but forgettable colours, the identity was all diagonal lines, sharp corners and an eye-popping palette. It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical as increasing youth participation in sport was a huge part of the intended legacy of the games and its infrastructure.

Overall the approach taken to create the identity and the final result was something befitting of a nation responsible for producing some of the world’s greatest creative and maverick minds.

The London 2012 logo is also likely to be the only Olympic logo you can recall without seeing it, which is an incredibly hard thing to achieve.

If more design work is approached in this way and more risks are taken, perhaps more brands would avoid one of the worst but most common of all design outcomes — nice, but forgettable.

Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash

Open sign

COVID-19 response statement

As the situation surrounding the spread of C-19 (Coronavirus) is changing rapidly, we want to make sure we are supporting our staff, clients’ and suppliers’ health and wellbeing first and foremost.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

We are a primarily digital business and can move to home-based working with minimal disruption until the advice about self-isolation and being in larger groups of people changes. We believe this is the most responsible course of action for us based on current advice.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

If you have a mobile number already for the person you wish to contact, please use this as the primary number to speak to someone. You can also contact us via the usual means; email, Slack, Skype or Google Hangout.

The business continuity plan for our hosting services is ISO 22301 Business Continuity accredited and will ensure they remain uninterrupted. It includes isolation for staff that have roles that dictate on-site working (such as data centre engineers) and built-in redundancy; this negates the risk of transfer from offices to data centres or vice versa.

As always, if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We wish you good health and a swift return to business as usual.

Nick Whyatt
MD, POP

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

The Shard, London

POP wins Mitie PLC projects

POP has secured another blue-chip client already in 2020, Mitie PLC. The work includes planning, website design and development.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie employs around 50,000 people.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie is the UK’s leading facilities management and professional services company, employing around 50,000 people and serving clients such as the Bank Of England, Sky, Facebook and Eurostar. Services delivered range from security and healthcare to document management, assurance and risk management.

POP is now in its 12th year of business and has worked with clients of all sizes and sectors, from start-ups to some of the country’s most recognisable brands.

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

Armstrong digital marketing win

POP wins Armstrong Account

POP has been successful in winning the Armstrong Ceiling Solutions pan-European digital marketing account.

The EMEA and Pacific Rim business has recently been acquired by Knauf in $330m sale, as Armstrong World Industries pursues an Americas-only strategy.

POP will be working alongside Armstrong to deliver digital marketing reporting tools as well as the creation and ongoing management of the company’s organic and paid digital marketing strategy and activity.

Armstrong has a 150-year history that has seen it grow into Europe’s leading manufacturer of mineral fibre ceiling systems; designing and making products specified in all environments from schools and workplaces to hotels and hospitals.

Brand purpose - The World Is Ours

From purpose to purchase

People want more from brands today; they want them to stand for something, they want them to have purpose. This isn’t a particularly new revelation, but it’s getting more and more important and research shows that brand purpose is more important to Generation Z and Millennials than it is to Generation X and Baby Boomers. Younger consumers want brands to roll up their sleeves and get involved.

…despite it being a polarising campaign and there being a very vocal backlash online, Nike reported a 31% increase in sales compared to the same period the previous year.

One of the most recent cases of a big brand taking a risk to back a cause was Nike’s Colin Kaepernick 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign. The company had to weigh the risk of alienating the NFL against the opportunity to engage with a young, socially conscious market at a potentially decisive moment. The gamble paid off – despite it being a polarising campaign and there being a very vocal backlash online, Nike reported a 31% increase in sales compared to the same period the previous year.

But what matters to consumers most what it comes to brand purpose? According to research by Accenture, the following:

  • 66% brand culture – delivering on promises
  • 66% transparency – sourcing materials, treating employees, etc
  • 65% treating employees well
  • 62% improving the environment
  • 62% having ethics or values and demonstrating them
  • 62% being passionate about what it does
  • 52% being bigger than just products or services, aligning with personal values
  • 50% standing up for issues they believe in
  • 50% supporting causes we have in common
  • 38% creates a sense of community with like-minded connections
  • 37% political stances close to my heart

There is, according to the same research, a difference in how important customers rate purpose depending on the category the brand is in i.e. Basic or utility products such as detergent, to a certain extent, fall back on more traditional differentiators such as price and quality – people appear less likely to want engagement from a bin liner.

So what does this mean in practice?

It means that to be more competitive, brands need to be more human and more transparent. They need to do what they say they will, but also find a calling that is bigger than just increasing sales. They need to engage with issues – even if an issue is divisive, taking a measured risk and giving voice to a cause with authenticity can be as commercially sound as it is ethically. This appears to be the path to creating an engaged community of loyal stakeholders, rather than a transient set of customers.

Photo by Charles on Unsplash

Sources:

  • Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research 2018, [survey of 29,530 end-consumers from 35 countries]
  • Nike sales information via Eddison Trends
Aeroplane cabin

POP rebrands Orvec International

POP has been commissioned by Orvec International to work alongside the company to develop its new identity and produce websites for both Orvec and its medical sister brand Orvecare.

Orvec is a market leader in the design, supply and manufacture of woven and non-woven products to the airline, healthcare and hospitality sectors across the world and has manufacturing locations in the UK & China and distribution bases in Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia.

The company’s products are supplied worldwide to clients such a TUI, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, United Airlines and Emirates.

Northcore Twiggy Baker

New Magento 2 store for Northcore

POP are currently redeveloping the e-commerce website for long-standing client and col-water surfing brand, Northcore Europe. The new website is a multi-storefront, multi-currency Adobe Magento 2 project and will be used for both retail and trade customers in the UK, mainland Europe and the US.

Adobe Magento 2 is the perfect fit for a large, highly-functional e-commerce website such as this

The website will integrate with Northcore’s stock management systems as well as third-party resellers such as Amazon and eBay. Adobe Magento 2 is the perfect fit for a large, highly-functional e-commerce website such as this and is the latest in a wave(!) of new Magento projects POP has been commissioned for as the end of support for Magento 1 in June 2020 draws closer.

Northcore Europe produces technical accessories and hardware for the surf, board riding and adventure sports communities, as well as working with the best athletes and engaging with progressive film making, music, art and photography. The brand has a team of pro surfers and has recently added world champion Twiggy Baker (pictured) to their ranks.

Check out Northcore’s existing website and learn more about our work with them here.

Two way sign

How to rebrand successfully

Making changes to your brand can be a risky business. Just look what happened when Coke attempted their image change in 1985, cue u-turn, and Royal Mail attempted to dress up in a sexier outfit and call themselves ‘Consignia’? – The result was that the attempt was *ahem* consigned to the cutting room floor. So why did these rebrands fail and what do you have to do to ensure that your rebrand is a success? 

Do your research and create a rationale for your rebrand

One of the most important things you have to do when deciding whether or not to rebrand is to do your research. A re-brand should not be a kneejerk reaction to a competitor’s move (i.e. Coke’s 1985 disaster when they panicked about the Pepsi challenge) or an isolated internal decision that has not sought the opinion of all stakeholder groups (Royal Mail – Consignia case).

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

You must look at the marketplace you are operating in, where are you in terms of the competition? Where do you want to recruit new customers, how many are there, who are they, what do they want? Why do they want your product and service, what can you offer that others don’t? Really get to know them and what makes them tick.

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

If you’re introducing a new product or service what is the market potential? Are you being realistic about what it can do for your company as a whole

This will ensure that you are looking outwards and will help you to build a true picture of what you look like now and what you want to achieve, and may well throw up some surprises!

Shape your new brand

Once you have carried out your research and really understand the problems a rebrand needs to solve you can begin to shape what your new brand should do for and say to customers.

  • What characteristics or qualities do we want people to think of when they hear our name?
  • How do we want our customer to feel when they use our product/service?
  • Do our products/services live up to these ideas? If not, make changes at product/service level before you do anything else.
  • What do you want to retain from your existing brand-where is the real ‘heritage’, and where do we need to build new values and promises.

Develop your internal ambassadors

Do not even attempt to roll out a new brand without first training every staff member in the new brand. Why are you carrying out the rebrand? What does it mean? What changes do you want your staff members to make to ensure that their behaviour is ‘on brand’? If necessary incentivise these behaviours to make sure there is a longevity beyond the first 3 months after its launch. Get key influencers involved in the rebrand process- i.e. looking at ways they can make the roles that they carry out ‘on brand’. Get them bought into the new brand and involved in the process.

Be relentless in communicating your rebranding efforts

Once you launch your new brand be bold and relentless in its communication. Don’t water it down or ‘forget’ to use it. Make sure that all your internal and external touch points have been considered and changed to fit in with the new brand.

Expect a ‘response’ and be brave!

Hopefully, your new brand will be well received and will quickly help you to achieve your business goals. However, you will always have detractors who ’ liked it better before’ or to whom ‘it doesn’t make sense’. People fear change but be brave! You have done your research and you have rational, business-led decisions for conducting the rebrand. Give it time and let your bottom line do the talking!

Check out these examples of our branding and rebranding work.

Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash

Wrendale Designs Country Kitchen range

POP working with Wrendale Designs

POP has been commissioned to design and build the new international e-commerce website for Wrendale Designs, the company founded by artist Hannah Dale. Founded in 2012, Wrendale Designs has enjoyed meteoric growth, created a range by Royal Worcester and has most recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

The website will be created using Adobe Magento 2 and will be integrated with Wrendale Design’s custom stock management system

The project to create the new Wrendale Designs website includes the creation of 6 different storefronts: retail and trade storefronts for 3 separate international regions and is both multi-currency and multi-lingual. The website will be created using Adobe Magento 2 and will be integrated with Wrendale Design’s custom stock management system, itself managing multiple stock locations in Europe and the US.

POP will also be helping to rationalise and recategorise the product range that runs to approximately 5,000 SKUs to create the most user-friendly way of navigating such a large range and give a great user experience to retail customers buying small numbers of items, trade customers buying and bulk and for the content management team themselves.

Eco friendly web hosting - For The World

100% carbon neutral web hosting

Though we’re a small business, we still have a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact where possible. One area we can do this is by migrating to a more eco-friendly web hosting set-up, so we are now using 100% carbon neutral data centres to host our websites and email for both ourselves and our clients.

Data centres worldwide are expected to generate 533 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020

At first glance, this might seem a small change, however, according to the Carbon Trust, data centres worldwide are expected to generate 533 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020, that’s roughly the equivalent of airline industry! So their impact is huge. You can rest assured though, if you host with POP, you won’t be contributing to this figure.

Learn more about what we do and who we do it for

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Number 1

Three ‘R’s of hiring a creative agency

Annabel Gilbert, Partner from Impact Marketing, guides you through selecting a creative agency in the first of our series of guest blog posts from the world of design and marketing.

If you’re ready to embark on a new design project whether it’s new packaging, a logo re-design or a complete brand overhaul, you will be looking for a creative agency and there are a plethora of agencies out there to choose from, but which one? Here are 3 tips to help you find ‘the one’:

Research

Whether you have been contacted directly by an agency touting for your business, or you’re starting the process of looking for one yourself, do your research! Take a look at their website and client list and check you like what you see. Ask them if they have done work for clients in your industry or aimed at your target market. If they have already come up with design you like for other clients, the chances are they will for you too.

Recommendation

If a creative agency has received testimonials from happy clients you’ll find them on their website, on Twitter or Facebook. It’s also worth contacting their clients directly to find out if they were happy with the work they received. Talk to business associates and friends about agencies they have worked with and ask for their honest opinions, you’ll get some fantastic information that will help you narrow down your shortlist.

Rapport

Finally, go with your instinct on this – if you find them easy to talk to, enthusiastic and receptive to your questions, it’s a pretty good start. Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties, so before you make your decision ask for what the marketing world call a ‘chemistry meeting’, that’s an informal chat to the rest of us!

Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties

Use it as an opportunity to ask questions about how they work and be upfront about what you’re looking for in return; mention your timescales, budget, goals etc and use it as an opportunity to see if you can work with them. It goes without saying that you should like what you hear, but even if they seem to be saying all the right things, if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at this stage it doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you’ve found the right creative agency for your business the design process should be an enjoyable one, have confidence in your decision and get started!

Check out our projects

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Feet and arrows

Which CMS to choose and why

If you are commissioning a new website, you will need to choose which CMS (Content Management System) to use and are likely to be recommended one by your developer. It is worth discussing the options at this stage thouroughly though; the CMS will be a very significant part of the infrastructure of your website, so making the wrong choice can be costly.

Part of what we do at POP is maintaining websites that we didn’t build originally or making them work more effectively, so naturally, we have seen clients with systems that are a bad fit for what they are trying to achieve.

Here are some considerations when choosing your Content Management System:

Who else supports the Content Management System?

Some systems are high-quality, widely-supported and free (eg. Expression Engine, Magento and WordPress) or carry a licence or subscription fee (Craft, Shopify). However, some are less-well supported by the developer community and/or are lower-quality (CS Cart, Perch, Open Cart, Drupal, Joomla!).

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so.

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so. It could also mean a frustrating content management experience and limited options if you want to part ways with your current developer.

How individual are your needs really?

Are your needs really that individual? If so, by all means invest heavily in the bespoke system that your developer is going to create around your specific needs, but also realise that you may now be tied to that developer through thick and thin and the ongoing support costs may also be significant.

Will the CMS still be a good choice in a year or two?

Some of the entry-level systems such as Squarespace and Shopify can be a great way to get online or start selling quickly and cheaply, but are you able to scale your website up alongside the demands of your business? Do you have the flexibility to configure the architecture of your website for SEO? They may be a great first step, but will restrictions make them a false economy?

Conclusion

Before committing to CMS, ask yourself how long you expect the website to last and what you might want to do during that period in terms of expanding its functionality.

If you are having a bespoke system built (the actual Content Management System, not just design and templates), is the cost necessary and will it be technically capable of keeping pace with your requirements?

Also, consider how long you expect the relationship with your developer to last once the honeymoon period and launch is over – do you have the flexibility to change if you want to? Will another developer or agency be able to support the website?

Head over to our projects for examples of CMS-driven websites.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Stop

Adobe Magento v.1 end of life June 2020

If you have an e-commerce site that uses Adobe Magento v.1, or you know someone that does, the time has come to plan for the move to Magento v.2.

Magento v.1 will receive only security patches (no quality updates) until June 2020 and then support will end. Most Magento sites are large, complex, highly-functional stores – such as our friends at Northcore Europe, so starting to implement a changeover strategy now will ensure the move can be made in a planned, structured way that maximises business continuity.

It should also be noted that there are non-PCI DSS compliance issues related to unsupported software

It should also be noted that there are non-PCI DSS compliance issues related to unsupported software and this could potentially leave your business exposed should there be a data breach or fraudulent activity.

POP are experienced at developing for Magento 2, from more straight-forward e-commerce projects, to large multi-store front, multi-currency websites, so if you or someone you know would like to know more about moving to Magento v.2 or to Adobe Magento from another e-commerce platform, please drop us an email and we will be happy to help.

Further reading

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

cake

POP celebrates 11 years in business

This December POP officially turned 11-years old, launching the same year as the first iPhone, the year young people (questionably) wore scarves with T-shirts and the year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II pipped Queen Victoria to become the oldest ever monarch.

Many things have changed since 2007, however, the one thing we are always grateful for is the trust and support of our clients and suppliers; so a sincere thank you, we hope to still be working together in another 11 years.

As Massimo Vignelli said: “If you do it right, it will last forever”.

In the constantly evolving, sometimes faddish world of design, we are proud of the fact that the work above are still looks great today, despite some of it being a decade old.

We attribute the longevity of our work to our thorough approach and our aim to create work that is timeless, especially when it comes to identity. As Massimo Vignelli said: “If you do it right, it will last forever”.

What else happened in 2007? Here’s a few of the key events:

  • Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, saving us all from a future of dull PDAs with little pointy sticks
  • Author J. K. Rowling finished the 7th and final Harry Potter novel, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, in room 552 of the Bamoral Hotel, Edinburgh
  • Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first female Speaker of the House in US history
  • Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the European Union
  • Blogging website Tumblr was founded by David Karp in New York
  • Coen brothers film ‘No Country for Old Men’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival
  • Actress Helen Mirren won a Golden Globe for her role in The Queen
  • Veteran singer Rod Stewart married Penny Lancaster
  • Rihanna released her hit single ‘Umbrella’, it stayed for 7 weeks at No.1 on US Billboard Hot 100
  • Robbie Power riding Silver Birch won the 160th Grand National
  • Nicolas Sarkozy became the 23rd President of France
  • Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper, was badly damaged by fire
  • Smoking was banned from public places in the UK
  • The first large scale exhibition of seminal Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s work in Mexico opened on the 100th anniversary of her birth
  • Gordon Brown became UK Prime Minister
  • The hashtag was invented and first used in a tweet by US product designer Chris Messina as a way of grouping information about a particular topic
  • AOL, once the largest internet service provider in the US, officially announced plans to refocus the company as an advertising business
  • Jason Lewis completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash